Welders are skilled technicians who use heat to join and repair pieces of metal. The profession requires a combination of mental and physical traits. Welding is precision work, so technicians must be detail-oriented and able to analyze and solve problems. They also need good vision and hand-to-eye coordination, and considerable physical strength when working with large structures. Voluntary certification in welding technology assures employers that you have the necessary skills.
Welding technology involves using torches or lasers to bond metal parts. Welders also make repairs by filling in holes and cracks in metal objects. Welding is commonly used for metals such as steel, copper and aluminum. Welders are also responsible for polishing and smoothing joints after welding and for maintaining their equipment in safe operating condition. A certificate in welding technology may help you find employment in industries such as construction, auto manufacturing, aerospace, shipbuilding and computers.
Some welders start training in high school shop classes to learn the basics. Others attend formal training programs at vocational schools and community colleges. Typically, students earn either an associate degree or certificate in welding technology. The Armed Forces are another source of training in welding technology. Employers may prefer that you have formal training, but some do hire people for entry-level positions and provide on-the-job training.
Welding technology students study physics, chemistry, blueprint reading and metallurgy, and undergo hands-on training in the use of welding tools. They also learn computer technology to become adept at automated welding tasks. Although a robot may perform the physical tasks, the operator must have a thorough knowledge of welding to properly program and use automated welding systems.
Welding technology training programs award an associate degree or offer certification for successfully completing a course of study. There is no certification that covers all types of welding. Instead, you may be certified for specific welding skills. Employers may require these specialized welding certifications before hiring welders or sponsor entry-level welders for advanced training. Certification courses and exams are available through technical schools, community colleges and industry trade organizations, such as the American Welding Society, or AWS. Typically, certification exams are “hands-on,” meaning you must demonstrate your skill by performing actual welds. You may also need to renew your certification periodically.
Types of Certification
Welding technology programs may include basic certification exams in sheet metal and pipe welding, or you may need to take the exam at an AWS testing center. You may earn one or more additional certifications in welding specialties, such as robotic arc welding, underwater welding, welding inspection and welding supervision. Training and certifications for electronics assembly soldering is sponsored by the Institute for Printed Circuits.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Welder, Cutter, Solderer or Brazer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers Do
- Ivy Tech Community College: AWS Welding Certification
- American Welding Society: Welder Certification
- American Welding Society: Taking the Plunge
- Dakota County Technical College: IPC Soldering Certification
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